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Breaking and Entering


It’s the opening night of the 29th Annual Starz Denver Film Festival at the Denver Center for Performing Arts’ stunning Ellie Caulkins Opera House. I suddenly feel quite short as I’ve forgotten my high heels and large women in even larger dresses barrel over me as we fought our way to the best seats. Lacking in fervor, I end up in the second row—which at a rock concert rules but at a movie premiere, not so much.


The opening night film, Breaking and Entering, boasts a star-studded cast: Jude Law, Juliette Binoche, Martin Freeman, Ray Winstone, and Robin Wright Penn. And perhaps an even bigger writer/director, Anthony Minghella whose films (The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Cold Mountain) have been nominated for 23 Academy Awards.

Mayor Hickenlooper presented Minghella with the Mayor’s Career Achievement Award. “I didn’t know Denver was so posh,” Minghella said looking out over the black-tie clad audience. “All I can think is, ‘Thank god I brought a suit!’”

And all I could think is, “I didn’t know Denver was so posh either.” As the intoxicated woman behind me slithered her bare feet in and out of the narrow space found on the top of the chair next to me jarring my seat with each slide, in and out, in and out. Toes wiggled in my periphery.

Minghella introduced, or in his words “apologized for,” the first showing of his film in the states. “When you’re making a film you have integrity and when you release one you have none.” “I wish I was showing you the Borat film,” he laughed.

Minghella described Breaking and Entering as a story about a city, London, which depends on an invisible class of people. This invisible class refers to the many impoverished immigrants that keep the city running. A city that, in Minghella’s words, “is awkward about its immigration policy.” (Hmm, sounds familiar).

The theme, breaking and entering, occurs repeatedly on many different literal and metaphorical levels in the film. Will (Law) finds himself among and often between different worlds. One of his worlds occurs in his strained home-life with long-term girlfriend Liv (Wright Penn) and her manic-obsessive-compulsive 12-year old daughter who doesn’t sleep, but instead practices gymnastics all night. Then there’s his work as a landscape architect where he’s undertaken a time consuming new project in King’s Cross, an area which is undergoing what we would call in the states, “gentrification” on a grand scale.

After his office in King’s Cross repeatedly gets broken into, Will begins a nightly stakeout, taking matters into his own hands. His worlds continue to cleave into a web of sketchy strands as he befriends a prostitute (Vera Farmiga) and finds himself intimately drawn into the life of the very teenage boy who robbed him.

Minghella’s invisible class come unveiled as these many worlds intertwine and each character faces a separate dilemma wrought of ethics, morals, truth, loyalty, and justice. The story poses a series of questions, none of which have easy, Hollywood answers. The characters are complex. Minghella, who also wrote the screenplay, carefully considers each character’s history and future avoiding stereotypes and predictability.

The young actors in the film, Poppy Rogers who played the eccentric daughter, Bea and Rafi Gavron who played Miro, the juvenile delinquent that burglarized Will’s office, gave particularly impressive performances. This was Gavron’s cinematic debut.

The moral of this story is that sometimes everything must break and come crashing down all around us so that we can see all of the pieces of our lives and then carefully put them back together.

After the film we all headed to the Seawell Ballroom for the opening night party in all of our posh glory. The most impressive feature of which was the raised circular stage that DJ played on in the center of the room with billowing sheer fabric draped all around it from the ceiling to the floor.

At the end of the night I was looking forward to getting down and dirty with the common folk and seeing as many films as humanly possible in the next 10 days.


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